How we pick our products
Where you always find valuable information to make the best purchase of all kinds of items. This time we bring you everything you need to know to buy the airbrush that suits you best.
Airbrushes are a great tool to achieve unique details in artistic creations of small, medium or large format. They are also widely used in the automotive industry and to achieve impressive and extravagant make-up.
To give you the best experience, we want to show you the different types of airbrushes on the market so that you can compare them and make the best buying decision. After reading this guide from start to finish you will have all the tools you need to get the best out of the airbrush of your choice.
- 1 Summary
- 2 The Best Airbrush: Our Picks
- 3 Buying guide: What you need to know about airbrushes
- 4 Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare airbrush models
- An airbrush is a tool with a very ingenious mechanism that sprays paint by means of an air compressor through a nozzle connected by a hose. It is very useful for making unique gradients, impossible to achieve with a brush or paintbrush.
- All airbrushes work by joining air and ink in a jet that comes out under pressure through a nozzle, but there are several ways to carry out this process. The most common are the gravity and suction mechanisms. We will discuss these in more detail later.
- There are several factors to take into account so that you can make the best decision and get the most out of your airbrush. You have to consider the compressor you will use, as well as the diameter of the nozzle, the application you will use and the type of pigment you will use.
The Best Airbrush: Our Picks
Buying guide: What you need to know about airbrushes
We know that all airbrushes look pretty much the same and that it is not easy to know their particular characteristics. That’s why we want to present you with this guide to help you find the airbrush that’s right for you. Pay close attention to all the information below and make the best purchase
What is an airbrush?
This ingenious means of applying paint works for decorating pastries, dyeing clothes or painting on various surfaces. It was patented in the mid-19th century and has since been used in various industries to colour countless products and public or private spaces.
What are the advantages of an airbrush?
Anyone can use an airbrush and have a professional paint finish on furniture, cars, blacksmithing, modelling or decorating. However, it takes a lot of patience to master the technique and achieve perfect results, especially in artistic creation. In addition, the airbrush needs to be cleaned constantly.
Gravity or suction airbrush: What should you pay attention to?
This classification is made on the basis of the way the airbrush feeds the paint and depends on the placement of the reservoir in relation to the airbrush body. Either of these mechanisms has advantages and disadvantages depending on the type of work you want to use it for.
Suction airbrush. This mechanism places the paint reservoir at the bottom of the airbrush body, so that it sucks the paint upwards. They usually have interchangeable reservoirs for easy cleaning, and also offer great versatility.
Gravity airbrush. In this mechanism, the reservoir is located at the top of the airbrush body, causing the paint to fall by its own weight. This allows the paint to be used a little more, although most of these models cannot be disassembled for easy cleaning.
|Suction airbrush||Gravity airbrush|
|Cleaning||Very easy||Not so easy|
|Tank||Detachable and interchangeable||Fixed|
|For painting ceilings||Yes||No|
|Connecting tube||Yes, if clogged it clogs||No, it is impossible to clog|
Single or double-acting airbrush
On the other hand, the double-action mechanism does allow you to control the amount of paint directly from the trigger, providing a more complete level of precision. Pressing down only releases air, while pressing backwards delivers paint. This mechanism is recommended for more advanced users.
The single-action mechanism is usually cheaper and is much easier to operate, making it ideal for beginners. However, this does not provide much precision for making thinner lines and greatly limits the artist’s possibilities.
How much does an airbrush cost?
However, a higher quality professional kit can cost more than 3,000 MXN and will not include a compressor. The price range of a good compressor is between 2,000 MXN and 8,000 MXN depending on its power. More on the characteristics of compressors later.
It is also important to take into account that you will also have to invest in good airbrush paints. A package with several paints can cost between approximately 500 MXN and more than 2,000 MXN, depending on the brand and the number of bottles.
Buying criteria: factors that allow you to compare airbrush models
Airbrushes are very varied and have different characteristics that we can divide into some important purchasing criteria to consider before making a decision. Here are the ones we consider to be the most essential for you to buy the airbrush that is right for you.
The correct cleaning of the airbrush is essential for its proper functioning, and it is important to clean specific parts of the airbrush after each use to avoid clogging the nozzle. Most of the problems that airbrush users have are due to the lack of cleanliness of the mechanism.
The intensity of cleaning will largely depend on the colour change: if it goes from a light to a dark colour, only water will be needed. However, if the colour change is the other way round, it is advisable to use some kind of solvent. It is always easier to clean after each use rather than waiting for the paint to dry.
We recommend getting some basic cleaning supplies such as pipe cleaners, small interdental brushes, cotton swabs and a stiff bristle brush. This will ensure a thorough cleaning of your airbrush after each use and you will be able to enjoy it for much longer.
“Once in Dutch customs they thought my works were photographs. Where on earth did they think I could have photographed such things? In hell?” – H. R. Giger, Swiss airbrush artist
This is a very important factor to consider depending on the detail you need when using your airbrush. The simplest airbrushes come with a wide nozzle with which it is impossible to paint very thin lines. However, some models incorporate interchangeable nozzles to give different line qualities in your creations.
It is important that you check the product description for the characteristics of the nozzle, as it is the most important part to achieve the level of detail you are looking for. But if what you need is simply to paint objects to give them texture without much detail, any standard nozzle will work perfectly.
The air compressor is an essential tool for running your airbrush. It is used to compress air from outside with the help of one or more pistons, storing it if you have a tank, or applying it directly if you don’t have a tank.
With tank. The fact of storing the air in this tank helps the engine not to be working all the time, avoiding its overheating, vibration and excessive noise to be able to work more quietly.
Tankless. These compressors can be more economical but are not recommended, as the motor needs to be on every time it is used and this can overheat it if it is not continuously paused.
Many modern compressors have an automatic on/off system to refill the air tank when necessary. Some models even have a pressure gauge that allows you to see the pressure level at which you are working. Small compressors operate at 1-1.5 bar while larger compressors operate at up to 6 bar.
The type of airbrush you choose will depend largely on the application you want to use it for. Below is a list of the most common applications and the recommended models to get the best results.
Modelling. In this case it is highly recommended to get a double action airbrush because it gives you the necessary control to give details by controlling the amount of paint that comes out of the nozzle. We also recommend one with interchangeable nozzles.
Baking. For this type of application you don’t need a precision airbrush, a general purpose airbrush will do the job perfectly. You can paint perfectly well with chocolate or edible paint using a wide nozzle and a simple compressor is enough.
Make-up. In this case a gravity-fed airbrush is best, as make-up paint tends to be denser and can clog up the suction mechanisms. You don’t need a very sophisticated compressor to work in this type of application.
Textile. To work on T-shirts and other textiles we recommend you to get an airbrush with a suction method to be able to change the colour constantly without wasting so much time. A medium tip is enough to achieve all kinds of designs.
Automotive. Here we include applications on car bodies, helmets or skateboards. We recommend a gravity airbrush with a larger tank than standard to cover larger surfaces. Here you will need a good compressor.
Illustration. For all types of fine art you will definitely need a dual action airbrush, preferably gravity and with interchangeable nozzles for the best control of fine details. For these applications a compressor with an automatic on/off system is recommended.
Types of paint
In general, any type of paint can be used with the airbrush as long as it is diluted correctly (gouache, acrylic, liquid make-up, etc.). In the case of oil paints and hard enamels it is not very advisable to use them, as they can cause serious difficulties in application and above all in cleaning.
In the case of modelling, quick-drying water-based paints with a fine pigment density are used. Some brands offer metallic or fluorescent finishes to give an incredible texture to your scale models.
For confectionery, any type of edible vegetable-based ink is used and can also be used with chocolate. It is generally recommended that no matter what type of paint is used, the viscosity of the paint should ideally be similar to that of milk.
(Featured image photo: Andrey Kekyalyanen / 123RF)